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European Investment Bank (EIB) signs an agreement with Gruppo Bancario Cooperativo Iccrea (Iccrea Banca) to provide US$221 million loans to Italian SMEs and the agricultural sector. The new loan will boost the Italian small industries and productions in rural areas of the country. The agreement with EIB will help 14 of the Iccrea Group’s banks to provide financial assistance to small entrepreneurs and farmers.

As per the agreement, the loans meant for the organization with fewer than 250 employees operating in sectors like retail, crafts, industry, tourism and services, and 25% of the amount reserved for the agriculture-related areas. The financial assistance will be available for the construction, purchase, extension, and refurbishment of buildings, the purchase of plant, equipment, expenses, additional charges, and intangible assets connected to the projects, including research, development and innovation costs.

Italy’s economy is the third-largest in the euro-zone, with an estimated GDP of $2.3 trillion. The country is a net agricultural importer with strength in the food processing and manufacturing of goods, primarily in small and medium-sized companies. Italy exports finished consumer products to other international markets.

Agriculture is one of Italy’s leading economic sectors, accounting for approximately 2% of the whole GDP. Italy produces grains, soybeans, meat, and dairy products primarily, while the south specializes in fruits, olive oil, durum wheat, and wine vegetables. The country is leading agricultural producers and food processors in the EU region. The retailing of food products and its distribution is extremely fragmented in Italy. While, traditional grocery stores and open-air markets are prevalent in the whole country, consolidation is slowly gaining momentum in the country with some foreign operators expanding their store networks.

About Gruppo Bancario Cooperativo Iccrea
It is a corporate bank of Credito Cooperativo, and subsidiary of Iccrea Banca SpA. The bank offers financial services and consultancy to small and medium-sized companies. It supports the small agricultural farmers and enterprises in their growth. It also helps in the field of import / export and expanding in foreign markets. The Iccrea Banca is a parent of Iccrea Banking Group.

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